There is some misunderstanding about visions and revelations. Not all visions are created equal. Some are infallible, some are highly reliable, and some as reliable as the flip of a coin (50/50).
Two Types of Revelations
Conditional: These revelations (or visions) have conditions. Conditions are typically:
- If the visionary or revelator does something.
- If the target population does something (particularly repentance in Scripture).
Jonah and Ninevah. Jonah said:
“Yet forty days, and Nin′eveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4).
For forty days Jonah went about the streets of the City of Ninevah yelling this. Then he added:
“Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger so that we perish not?” (Jonah 3:9).
Even Jonah prophesied that God could relent. Yet, Jonah expected Ninevah would be destroyed and not repent.
“When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it” (Jonah 3:11).
Jonah was displeased:
“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry” (Jonah 4:1).
The Prophet had expectations that were correct and not correct. Ninevah was destroyed but not in his lifetime (766 B.C.). It was destroyed in 612 B.C., 142 years later than Jonah expected.
So his expectation of destruction was true (occurrence) and not true (timing). It was a conditional revelation, with unconditional foretelling. His timing was off, his cataclysm was correct.
This was a conditional prophecy as to timing. It was an unconditional prophecy as to the event of the cataclysm.
Simple: It happens as to timing, and as to the event, Place, time or nature of event.
“But you, O Bethlehem Eph′rathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).
The place was correct, the nature of the even was correct, and the time was correct when taken in context with other Messianic Prophecies (see Isaiah 7:14). Emmanuel means “God with us.”
This prophecy was unconditional. All events came true, as factually described, without variance.
“An absolutely certain and infallible special revelation” (Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon 16).
These are ongoing. The Church perpetually assumes such revelations take place. There is no timeframe set. Period.
God communicates to his people, without error, without abstractions, without misunderstandings, without false opinions, without uncertainty, without unholiness, without lack of grace, without any other deficiency.
“With visions to the intellect, there are no false opinions“ (St. Augustine, Bishop, Church Father, Church Doctor; On Genesis, 26).